Sunday, May 31, 2015

Glacial Muffin

Rick and I drove over to the Two Medicine location of Glacier National Park on Friday. Of course, Muffin Top felt she had to go. Here she is above standing with Sinopah Mountain behind her. This is my favorite location in GNP. We also hiked to Appistoki Falls.

She also got lugged around went on a hike, did some modeling by a few Cut-leaved Daisies, and she balanced in front of Running Eagle falls (above). If you look closely, there are actually two waterfalls coming into the same spot. It's hard to see though, because as always, Muffin Top always makes things about her.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

It's that time of year again ...

It's the time of year when I start carrying my wildflowers book around like a Bible. So far, we don't have a lot blooming in our yard, but I see things elsewhere, so it's just a matter of time. Last night I saw this Black Hawthorn (below) during my walk. It's so delicate and pretty.

I spotted this daisy (below) the other day at a local car wash place. I think it's an Oxeye Daisy, which is actually an invasive weed. Even so, there were a few of them sprouting up in between some garbage on the ground. With a little cropping, it's still a pretty flower, weed or not.

Below is a Woods Rose, which is also known as a Wild Rose in some states. They're blooming all over the place right now, and they smell wonderful. Most people don't think they look like roses, but the buds definitely do. I see them in light and dark pink all around the house.

Below is one of our biggest Woods Rose bushes. It grows next to a tall Tamarack where we park our cars. This bush has the lighter flowers. I took the picture above from another bush.

I believe the flower below is a Woods Strawberry. We have two varieties of wild strawberries. The other is Mountain Strawberry. Judging by the surface of the leaves being so prominent, I'm thinking these might be the Woods variety. They are edible, but usually the animals get them before I do. I actually took this one on the bike trail in ID the other day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Nathan's poem ...


By Nathan Jones

In our world of legends and myths,
We never believe a thing.
Only until the rumors spread,
And tales begin to spring.

Should you choose to understand,
The fate of another's visions.
Or refuse to become the ones,
Inside the deep and dark incisions.

Once a theory makes a buck,
It invites itself into your head.
Keeping you thinking and wondering,
Of the secrets beneath your bed.

As you were in the light of dawn,
You never notice those who look.
They may remain completely absent,
Until you close your eyes and shut the book.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Route of the Hiawatha

Yesterday Rick and I took the boys on the Route of the Hiawatha bike trail on the MT/ID border. It's about a 15 mile trip, but goes mostly downhill at a 1.7% grade, so it's relatively easy. Anyone can do this, even little kids and old people like us. There's a shuttle bus at the bottom if you don't want to ride back up. They fit about 24 people on the bus, including all their bikes.

With four bikes, our van is becoming quite a site. Sad thing is, we use the van to pull our travel trailer, so a lot of times when we go camping, we don't bring our bikes. Rick just ordered a hitch for the front of the van though. I can't wait to see how that looks with the bikes on front, kayaks on top, and the trailer behind. We'll be like a miniature train!

The trail goes through nine tunnels and seven high (very, very high!) train trestles. The photo above is the Taft Tunnel. That's the first thing you encounter and basically you're riding through a mountain. The tunnel is 1.66 miles long. That doesn't sound like far, but picture it in absolutely darkness. To ride the trail you're required to have lights on your bike and wear helmets. We've done the trail before, so this time we had extra headlamps. Those really came in handy in the Taft Tunnel. The only thing you see are the lights from your bike and other riders. Even so, they only look like little white dots from their lights. 

Here's a photo of Rick and the boys right before we went in. It's just the craziest thing. It's one of those love/hate experiences where you're thinking, "Oh my God! This is awful!" and "Damn! This is so freaking awesome!" They have a few yellow construction-like lamps throughout the tunnel, but they really don't light it up at all. All you hear is water rushing down the sides of the rocks. The trail had just opened the day before too, so it was still pretty muddy. Most everyone had mud splattered down their backs and behinds. Neil and I managed to miss most of that.

The first time we rode the trail had to have been in late summer because I remember the daisies that were growing everywhere. We were so early this year, so not many wildflowers are in bloom yet. I saw mostly dandelions and some wild strawberries.

Here's proof that I look really stupid in a bike helmet.

I didn't take many pictures. It's just so hard while riding. I think the first time I rode the trail I had my camera around my neck. That was awkward. This time I just took a few pictures on my phone. I believe the one above is of Rick and the boys riding in front of me.

We stopped on the route to munch on some snacks, and while we did that, Neil took this picture of an ant. This was taken with my iPhone 6+. He got an amazing close-up! He lucked out too because this ant just happened to stop for a moment. Absolutely amazing!

I only took a few pictures from the trestles we went over. This is one above, and the photo below shows another trestle we would be crossing over later. Even though the trail is 15 miles long, since it goes slightly downhill, you can get down it fairly quickly. They say it takes about 2.5 hours on average, but I heard another man saying he did it in an hour. I guess if you peddle hard, don't stop, and don't bother looking at anything then you could zoom down pretty fast.

The last time we were on the trail, Neil had just gotten the hang of riding a bike. He can ride so much better now. Here's Nathan & Neil standing on one of the trestles. We were so far up!

It's a fun trail to ride on, so I was happy we finally made it back. I figured it would be busy on Memorial Day weekend. It was, but it was way busier than any of the employees had ever seen it. I guess that was because the weather was so nice. The shuttle bus took over an hour to get on. They were a little overwhelmed, which must have been crazy for them because the trail just opened on Saturday. Rick decided to buy us season passes, so we will be going back. The passes pay themselves off after about 2.5 trips. I'm not sure when we'll be back, but it will be soon because the season only runs from May through September.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Magic Kingdom

Here are a few photos I took at the Magic Kingdom. We were there several times during our stay. I didn't take as many pictures as I normally would because I was pushing my in-laws around in wheelchairs so they could get around easier. Some are edited more than others, and some are just edited slightly to add frames for Instagram and such ...

As you can tell, I'm not big on photographing people that much. I got pictures of my family as well, but I'm just not one of those people that has to have someone IN each picture I take. If anything, I'm doing everything I can to make sure I can crop people out of them. Go figure.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Animal Kingdom

I wanted to share some of the photographs I took at Disney's Animal Kingdom recently. Again, many were on Instagram, so I apologize if these are repeats for you. Instagram is so much easier to post on than my blog while traveling. These photos are mostly ones I took with my Canon Powershot. I took a lot of others on my phone that aren't included here.

I think the Animal Kingdom is my favorite park of them all. I love animals so much though, so that's not too surprising. Even when I'm at the Magic Kingdom, I'm the loon off in the corner with my camera chasing down a bird or a lizard. Surprisingly, the driver on the Safari ride actually stopped for a decent amount of time for us to take photos. I've been on that ride where the driver spots an animal, slows down, and then jolts off just as everyone has their cameras ready. I got lucky this time.